The closing months of WWII, then, from the British point of view—one little known here, and worth knowing about.

THE BATTLE FOR THE RHINE

THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE AND THE ARDENNES CAMPAIGN, 1944

A clear-eyed critique, by noted military historian Neillands (Eighth Army, 2004, etc.), of the Allied command and its decisions and indecisions in the last half of 1944.

This is a book of battle, including some of the best-known of the European Theater, including the Bulge and Arnhem Bridge. But the author is more concerned with the high command, and he finds the often-denigrated Bernard Montgomery in better form than many historians—particularly American ones—allow. Neillands observes that Montgomery pressed hard, after the Normandy landing, to be allowed to lead an invasion of Germany from the northwest, advancing through Belgium and Holland and storming the Ruhr Valley. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, countered with a strategy that involved taking both the Ruhr and the Saar at once, a plan that required the Germans to fall back, not regroup, and not fight with their customary ferocity. It was all of a piece, Neillands charges, with Eisenhower’s history of poor decisions and apparent lack of understanding that it was logistics that would win the war—and in 1944, the Allied supply lines were stretched dangerously thin. “Montgomery’s narrow thrust to the Rhine and the Ruhr was logistically possible,” Neillands argues, whereas the broader-front attack was fraught with peril. Still, the American commanders were publicity hounds keenly attuned to the whims of the press and the public at home, and they demanded that the British take the back seat; in the same spirit, the author writes, American histories to this day tend to overplay British failures while ignoring American ones, including Omar Bradley’s failure to support the U.S. infantry landing on D-Day and “the cock-up in command that prevented the 82nd Division from either taking the Nijmegen bridge . . . or avoiding a frontal attack across the Waal in borrowed boats three days later.”

The closing months of WWII, then, from the British point of view—one little known here, and worth knowing about.

Pub Date: May 10, 2007

ISBN: 1-58567-787-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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